BACKGROUND: Abram and Lot had parted company because of quarrelling among their servants and Lot moved his tents to the “well watered plains” of the Jordan – the “Vale of Siddim”: “Lot looked up and..…… Lot chose for himself … Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.” . Lot finally moved into the city of Sodom and evidently became one of the leaders or elders of the city. The“Cities of the Plain” or the “Vale of Siddim” consisted of five cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar (originally Bela; [now Ziara]).
“Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.” . “Then the LORD said…… I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom….”. Sodom is named six times in the O.T. and four times in the N.T. Its name is synonymous with sexual perversion, and stands in the Bible as the excellent example of an “overthrow without remedy”. While Abram was pleading with the Lord for Sodom, the angels were on their way.
THE APPROACHING DESTRUCTION: “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city.” . As Lot sat in his accustomed position at the gate to the city, what thoughts were going through his mind? Were they thoughts of disillusionment and displeasure with the noise of the revelers in the street? Was he was depressed with the oppressive atmosphere of a catastrophe?. As he looked out toward the western horizon and the setting sun, did he picture and long for the peaceful atmosphere of Abram’s tents? Then his thoughts are interrupted by the approach of the two men that arrived in the city.
“I will go down and see” : How will God determine what needs to be done, and how will this angelic commission of inquiry proceed? Should the angels call the leaders of the city for an examination of their character? Should they take Lot outside the city and cross-examine him? When a crisis comes, individuals do not suddenly acquire an intelligence or insight that they have not habitually cultivated, so when the test comes, we stand or fall according to what the previous self-discipline or self-indulgence has made us. There is a more effective way of detecting character than by any method of questions and answers . So the angels method will be; they will allow each one to act their usual way. This is the way we are all judged – by the insignificant circumstances in which we all act without reflection. God sets a limit to human wickedness beyond which judgment is inevitable – unsuspected by the majority, and final in its outcome.
FIRST – LOT IS JUDGED Lot is found sitting at the gate of Sodom where he apparently had become one of the city’s high officials, charged with upholding its principles and protecting the filthy privileges of the citizens. There he sat, accepted by them because he now spoke their language and condoned their practices. What a place for a backslidden child of God! That was how far the morality of the city had tainted his values and judgment. “Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)” . There is much that is both admirable and pathetic by Lot’s conduct. To defend his unknown guests, he put himself in a position where others have lost their lives, and his scheme for his own private well-being is the key to his whole character. Abram gave him the choice of a grazing ground for his flocks and he chose the best; and when his house was attacked by the mob he closes the door behind him so that the men inside could not hear his bargain with the mob for his daughters . Lot had to pretend good-will where he felt none and deceit and coldness grew upon him. Any attempt to live a righteous life with an evil conscience is doomed to failure and Lot had totally lost any testimony that he had, and was no longer able to warn even his own family of the pending destruction.“So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law…..But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.” <Gen.19:14 (NIV)>. So Lot’s true character is evident to the angels, they did not have to cross-examine him.
SECOND – THE CITIZENS ARE JUDGED The citizens quickly provide the evidence that they are ripe for judgment, they do nothing worse than their habitual conduct led them to do. “… all the men from every part of the city of Sodom– both young and old– surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” . The unholy morality of the men of Sodom was prevalent and was not limited to a few individuals who performed their obscenities in private, it was an accepted way of life for both young and old. They persisted in their efforts to satisfy their lusts and nothing that Lot could say to them or offer them would make them change their minds. Perversion is deep-seated in character, like a cancerous cell it entrenches itself and takes over the person. “Get out of our way.” . No longer was their perversion practiced as they wished, it had gone far beyond that; now they were open and aggressive, an insistent force in the city with which none dared to interfere. They had the constitutional right to indulge in their passions wherever and whenever they wished and any interference would cause a riot. When a person persists in sinning, and heeds no warning to cease; the day will come when such iniquity produces the frightful results of the character of the life lived. Character tends to express itself in one perfectly representative act, the habitual passion is always alive and seeking expression, and so the citizens of Sodom condemned themselves without one question from the angels.
THE CITY IS DESTROYED “Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah…” . The unholy morality of Sodom was punishable – perhaps not by the laws of Sodom but definitely by the Laws of God, and where society fails to punish that form of behaviour, God will definitely act. Many an argument can be raised as to whether or not it was God’s intervention, or if it was just a natural disaster, but we do have to account for the fact that it was predicted both to Abram and Lot. God’s judgment for sin is TOTAL and the destruction depopulated the region, and has been supported in broad outline by archaeological discovery. It has been shown that most probably the sites of these cities are now beneath the waters at the southern end of the Dead Sea, a fact that prevents their excavations by conventional methods.
THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
LOT: His witness was worthless – “his sons-in-law thought he was joking”; “The old man is crazy”, was their expression; his testimony had fallen on deaf ears. With the years of backsliding behind him, he had no spiritual power to carry conviction with his words. He was reluctant to leave the city and all his possessions . Spiritual truth had become unexciting to Him, he could not appreciate or identify with it. God was not going to save him from the destruction and then leave him to survive for himself, but with the mentality of Sodom so deeply entrenched in his heart he could not comprehend the truth. Lot was a decent and righteous man, but Sodom had eaten out his heart till he had nothing to keep him in harmony with heaven, and any believer who is trying to live like the world will never win people for the Lord, you will only make yourself look foolish to them; you must be friendly towards them, but never adopt their worldly practices and habits! Lot could have left Sodom at any time he wished, but he chose to remain in that wicked city until his whole family was influenced by the sin and wickedness.
LOT’S WIFE: “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” . Those that have been saved from the destruction of sin must now forsake and forget the ways of the world, for the things of this world that would attract and enslave you must be left behind, you must not attempt to carry them along with you for they are of no value to you any longer, you cannot afford to stop or look back, otherwise you could be overtaken by the desires and suffer great loss. Are such things attracting you? Unable to move she is overtaken by the sulphurous smoke, the bitter salts rise out of the earth and encrust her and her death warns that if we crave to make the best of both worlds, we shall probably lose both. We must remember Lot’s wife and realize the possibility that those who make great efforts to reach the place of safety may be overtaken by destruction by indecision . The question always is, not what you have done, but what are you now doing? If you are conscious that in your life there are practices that will result in moral disaster, an angel has taken you by the hand and is trying to help you to escape; REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE!
SODOM: There comes a point in the rising tide of human wickedness where God acts, and He may not always intervene so spectacularly, but this account serves as a warning that His tolerance for evil has a limit, and in preparation for His action He blinds or allows the devil to deceive mankind . The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked that God decided to destroy them for this was the only way to keep the evil from spreading throughout the land, and since God owns this earth, He has the right to “eject bad tenants” whenever He sees fit. As believers we struggle with the thought that ungodliness is taking over our society, but we must understand that God sees and will act in His time .
THEREFORE: Believers must remain faithful to God. As in the case of Sodom, while the people were awakening to spend another day in their sinful ways, the ungodly must understand that God’s patience with their evil will come to an unexpected and dreadful end!